Cornerback Cortez Allen hates the fact that teammate Ike Taylor will not play this week, the first time he hasn’t played in a game since the 2004 season, but at the same time he knows he has to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
Allen will be starting in Taylor’s left cornerback spot Sunday against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field, after Taylor suffered a fractured ankle against the Ravens.
“Stepping in for Ike are big shoes to fill,” said Allen. “I have a lot of respect for him and what he brings to the field. He is my mentor as far as the game is concerned. I lean on Ike a lot as far as his wisdom. He is in his 10th year and he brings a lot to the table as far as just knowledge. I am always in his ear about things.
“But like Coach (Mike) Tomlin said the ball keeps rolling and I have to fill in that spot to help the team out.”
Allen, who competed for the starting right cornerback spot that Keenan Lewis secured at the start of the season, is making his first NFL start as he fills that spot, and is understandably pumped for it.
“It’s exciting,” said Allen. “If I wasn’t excited about this opportunity what am I am here for. This is something you look forward to doing as a football player. You want to be a starter. It’s a big test for me to show I can handle the job.”
Allen said he will handle this week the same as he has every other week this season, the big difference being there will be more on his plate playing every down.
“I take the approach you should always be prepared,” said Allen. “I was ready for this. I feel the coaching staff and teammates are confident in me to get the job done. That’s all I can go out there and do. The good thing is I am going into the week with a chance to study a broader view of the game.”
Last week Allen got thrown into the fire against the Ravens, stepping in early when Taylor went down. The Ravens tested him early and often, and he expects something similar this week.
“Being the new guy you know they are going to go at you,” said Allen. “I am prepared for it each week. You have to be ready for it. Every down that you play, you have to play as if it’s coming to you. I was ready for it and expecting it and I accept that challenge.”
He also grew from the experience. While he might not have been completely pleased with the performance, he held his own and gained plenty of confidence from those around him.
“I had a few ups and downs but that is expected in the course of the game,” said Allen. “It’s things to learn from and I will make my corrections in practice and be ready for the next game.
“I learned to be a little more technically sound and settle down a little bit. As the game wore on I felt more comfortable and felt like I progressed. Playing a full game I got a good taste of that. Going into this game I will feel more prepared.”